Screen Use at Night Could Seriously Impact Your Child’s Sleep

Screen Use at Night Could Seriously Impact Your Child’s Sleep

Some time spent in front of screens brings many benefits, whether it be for educational purposes or to connect with friends and help improve their social skills. Even gaming has been proven to help kids develop decision making skills and can encourage team play. Of course, moderation is the key to healthy computer time.

But there’s also a time and a place for screen time and research shows that it should not be at night.  Around 60% of children in the US use electronic devices in the hour before their bedtime and it’s greatly affecting their sleep.  Let’s find out just how bad it is to let your kids use electronics before they go to sleep.

Less sleep

The amount of sleep a child needs ranges from 8 to 14 hours, depending on their age. Screens at bedtime interrupt this crucial sleep for several reasons. The first is that technology is a distraction. A child can waste hours watching videos and playing games on a device when they should be sleeping.

Another problem is the blue light in the screens of electronic devices. Blue light decreases the production of melatonin which is needed to induce sleep. Scientists have found that children exposed to blue light at bedtime have melatonin levels that are between 70% and 99% lower than they are in a screen-free room.

Increased risk of nightmares

Nightmares are commonly experienced by children. The Sleep Foundation reports that 20% of 6 to 12-year-olds have them and younger children are even more likely to be affected by them. Giving children access to screens before bed could increase the number of nightmares they have. Nightmares are caused by many things, including stress, trauma, and sleep issues. The impact of a bad dream is different for everyone, although a racing heartbeat, being scared, and finding it hard to go back to sleep are usually experienced.

One study found that young children with a television in their bedrooms had more nightmares and sleep terrors than those who didn’t. Further research from Seattle Children’s Research Institute linked late-night TV viewing to an increased risk of nightmares. These studies may have only focused on TVs, but all screens, including smartphones and tablets, should be avoided by kids before bedtime.

Sleep disturbances

Sleep disturbances occur when a child wakes up during the night. Using screens before bed could trigger this, according to researchers. They say that youngsters using devices 1 hour before bed had more sleep disturbances than those that spent this time screen-free. The likelihood of disturbed sleep was even higher in children who used an electronic device in a darkened room. The same study also revealed that screen time at night caused higher rates of anxiety and obesity in children. Both of these conditions can further impact the amount of shuteye that children get.

Optimum sleep environment

So now you know how damaging screen time at night is to your child’s sleep, you must act now to prevent this problem from worsening. First of all, remove all devices from your child’s bedroom, such as televisions and game consoles. Portable devices, like phones and tablets, should be restricted and taken away from your child at least 2 hours before bedtime.

It’s important that your child has the chance to unwind before they go to sleep. A darkened room with comfortable bedding and blacked-out windows are a must. Your child may feel frustrated by the lack of entertainment in their room, so replace it with sleep-inducing items instead, such as books, comics, and magazines.

Sleep is essential for the health and well-being of your children. Make sure your children get a good night’s sleep night after night by restricting screen use at bedtime and setting good habits.

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